Time is now rushing headlong onwards towards 9th at a rate of knots. Quite weird after the long slow wait that has been getting to this point. Incredibly, I am into my last days at home.
It is now time for final preparations before I get invaded on Wednesday by the removals people to pack everything away into storage and safe keeping for two years. It feels really quite strange, I've left everything behind before quite long periods of travel, I've packed up to move house many times and I've even moved countries but I've never had to do this. In some ways it is quite daunting: if I forget something I should have taken with me there's no way to get it, if I forget to do something there wil be no way to deal with it. When I have moments like that I just have to say "Chill" to myself, sit down and relax.
My To Do List got a major item ticked of since my last post - I sold my car. This happened without much hassle and without having to hire another one to get about with until I leave. Where I live is rural, you really can't live here without a car for any length of time: there are no shops within walking distance. In fact there are none in the nearest two villages. The nearest are 5-6 miles away. Luckily the pub is closer only a walk of about 1 mile! Not that I have needed either as I've been trying to empty kitchen cupboards of foodstuffs and the drinks cabinet but I know have resigned myslef to the fact that I am not going to make it, so I think my neighbours will be getting some goody bags. And aren't friends amazing? P&G are coming out on Tuesday evening to drive me out for dinner, G&G organised a neighbourhood dinner on Sunday evening and K is picking me up after a business trip to Cambridge on Thursday and I am staying with K&B for my last weekend in the UK. I have been promised a well stocked drink cabinet and a traditional Sunday dinner as well as a drive to the airport on Monday morning. Then I've just been finalising meeting up with D in Delhi on the evening of 10th. So I am going to be unsociable to my In Country Training Group and head off out for the first evening we are together. I'm sure they will understand when I say that I haven't seen him in 10 years and we just happen to be in the same city together for once!
So it is back to those last minute preparations. Having trial packed I've emptied everything out again and am trying to streamline the contents of my bags. It is at times like that when you realise you packed two swiss army knives! It is crazy to think that actually I could go with very little but it is all those bulky things like a wind up lantern (for all those Indian power outages H has been telling me about), and heavy things like papers and books that are filling my main bag. And that's not even thinking about electrical gadgets and the weight that is PC and camera equipment. Then there are things that are just simply big eg my orthopedic pillow, lightweight but bulky, but also a must as it does help me keep my back in good working order. I still feel there is far too much stuff there and I am sure I'll regret it on the train cross country from Delhi to Orissa. But there you have it. BA give VSO volunteers what is called "missionary allowances" for baggage - 3 bags of 23 kg each! An incredible amount and great for the folks heading to live in Delhi but the thought of 2 nights in trains sharing a bunk up with the second and third bags is not exactly the most appealing way to sleep! My hope is to head towards 2 bags for the hold, totally about 30 kg, plus my Crumpler as hand luggage for PC, camera, and electronics and to not open one bag at all whilst I am in Delhi! That's the plan!
And that's not all the packing I've had to do. I've self packed all my personal papers etc. And as it is quite likely that I'll return home without any European clothes, in the middle of winter, with the tenants still in my house, with all my stuff still in store, I have packed two other bags to leave here in the UK. One has already gone to my sister in law's who is my emergency evacuation point - VSO insist that you nominate somewhere just in case you need to be evacuated - and the other will be left at K's.
It will be approaching Christmas by the time I have unpacked everything and be settling into my new home, whatever that will be. And that feels very strange at the moment!